1.   Those of you who have been with us through most of our study of John’s Revelation have, by now, become aware of the fact that throughout this book there are certain key words and phrases that John uses to tip us off and help us to follow him.


2.   Perhaps the most memorable phrase for us is the phrase, “they that dwell upon the earth.” That, of course, is John’s characteristic description of lost people, since they dwell here and since this world is not our home. We are just passing through.


3.   Another important phrase that John uses repeatedly is the phrase, “after these things,” meta tauta, also translated “after this.” John uses this phrase when he is changing subject matter and       he wants his readers to follow the change in his line of thinking.


4.   As we begin our study of Revelation chapter 18, which details the destruction, not of religious Babylon, but of commercial and political Babylon, let us remember to look for John’s helpful phrases.


5.   But before we consider our text, allow me to read the comments of the late J. Vernon McGee on this chapter:


In the chapter before us we see the judgment of commercial Babylon and the reaction of both earth and heaven to it.


In chapters 17 and 18 two Babylons are brought before us. The Babylon of chapter 17 is ecclesiastical. The Babylon of chapter 18 is economic. The first is religious—the apostate church which entered the great tribulation period. The second is political and commercial. The commercial center is loved by the kings of the earth; and the apostate church is hated by the kings of the earth, as we saw in chapter 17. The apostate church is destroyed by the kings of the earth. When Christ returns, political Babylon will be destroyed by the judgment of God. Obviously, mystery Babylon, the apostate church, is destroyed first in the midst of the great tribulation; while commercial Babylon will be destroyed at the second coming of Christ. These two Babylons are not one and the same city. I personally believe that mystery Babylon is Rome and that, when it goes down in the midst of the great tribulation, the religious center shifts to Jerusalem because it is at Jerusalem that the false prophet will put up his image of the Antichrist to be worshiped. Commercial Babylon is ancient Babylon, rebuilt as the commercial capital of the world. This city is the final capital of the political power of the Beast.


A few years ago it seemed rather farfetched that the power could reach back into the Mideast, but since then we have experienced a shortage of energy, and when they cut off the oil supply, the whole world feels it. They wield tremendous power. The wealth of the world is moving into that particular area because of the price of oil. It could well become the great commercial capital of the world. And this great commercial center, which will be Babylon rebuilt, will be destroyed at the second coming of Christ.


Sometime ago a Jew challenged the Israeli minister of tourism by saying, “How does it come about that all the countries surrounding Israel have oil, but Israel doesn’t?” His reply was        this: “God gave the Arabs oil and the Jews the Bible. Do you want to exchange with them? God forbid. The oil will run out quick enough, but the Bible will last forever.”


There has been some disagreement among conservative expositors about whether or not ancient Babylon will be rebuilt. Candidly, for many years I took the position that it would not        be rebuilt. However, I believe now that it will be rebuilt. Isaiah 13:19-22 speaks of the fact that ancient Babylon is to be rebuilt and destroyed, and this destruction is what is mentioned in chapter 18 of Revelation, which is before us. Actually, I don’t think it could be rebuilt on the same spot because the Euphrates River has moved about fourteen miles from the ancient city.       


There are two views of the destruction of Babylon which are diametrically opposed to each other. The viewpoint and perspective are highly important. (1) The reaction of men of business and politics is one of great anguish. To them it is the depth of tragedy. It means the total bankruptcy of big business. (2) The second reaction is that of heaven. It is one of joy that the holiness and justice of God is vindicated. It means the end of man’s sinful career on earth. This will bring to an end the great tribulation period.[1]



(18.1)         And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.


1. The verse opens with one of John’s characteristic phrases I just mentioned, meta tauta, which lets us know that a change of story line is occurring. John is letting his readers know that he is shifting gears a bit. However, having read the entire 18th chapter, we see that the subject John is dealing with is still Babylon. So, what gives? “‘After these things’ refers to after the bowl judgments. The angel described is distinct from the bowl angels and appears to be a high ranking angel coming from the presence of God, based upon the descriptive terminology of ‘great authority’ and the ‘earth illuminated with his glory.’”[2]


2. Careful analysis of chapter 17 and chapter 18, together with John’s cue phrase, “And after these things,” convinces me that whereas chapter 17 dealt with the destruction of religious Babylon, chapter 18 describes the destruction of commercial and political Babylon. That change in subject matter, from the ecclesiastical aspect of Babylon to the commercial and political aspect of Babylon, is why John writes “after these things.” As we progress through this chapter I will try to point out, as often as I can, evidence that shows this to be true.


3. After informing his readers of a change in subject matter, John records the dispatch of an angel of incredible power and glory from heaven: “I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.


a. The phrase “I saw another angel” strongly suggests that John is describing an actual angel, as opposed to the Lord Jesus Christ appearing in the form of an angel. This is because the word “another” translates the Greek word allon.[3] The word allon typically refers to a distinct other of the same kind as opposed to eteroV, which would suggest a distinct other of a different kind.[4] Therefore, this is an angel and not the Son of God, but a distinct angel from the one mentioned in Revelation 17.1.


b. “. . . come down from heaven, having great power.” This angel has been dispatched by God, and because it is an angel that has exousian medgalhn, which is authority that is great, or control that is great. So, something important, something of real significance is going to be dealt with by this angel.


c. “. . . and the earth was lightened with his glory.” “The fifth bowl (16:10) will have plunged the world into darkness. Against that backdrop, the sudden, blazing appearance of another angel (not the same as in 17:1, 7, 15) will certainly rivet the world’s attention on him and his message of judgment on Babylon (cf. 14:8).”[5]

[1] J. Vernon McGee, Revelation – Volume III, (Pasadena, CA: Thru The Bible Books, 1979), pages 105-106.

[2] Bob Kollin, Revelation Unlocked, (Springfield, Missouri: 21st Century Press, 2003), page 173.

[3] H KAINH DIAQHKH, (London: Trinitarian Bible Society), page 472.

[4] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), pages 46-47 and 399.

[5] See footnote for Revelation 18.1 from John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 2017.

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